OPINION: Please postpone our commencement

By Olivia Carbajal | April 5, 2020 4:22pm
Olivia Carbajal, senior music major.

“Don’t let this last year pass you by.” “Live in the moment.” “Be with your friends while you still live right next to each other.” This is the advice given to most students going into their final year of college. However, the class of 2020 had no chance to do those things once we returned to school from spring break. Before we knew it, classes and campus events were canceled, the whole city shut down, we were all told to stay at home indefinitely, and the last quarter of our senior year was suddenly finished.

This graduation is not just for me, but for my family as well. I am the first grandchild to graduate from college and my mom practically drained her 401k account to get me here. When my older brother did not walk at his graduation, my entire family was devastated. Walking across the stage and receiving my diploma is something my loved ones want to be a part of, perhaps even more than I do. It is a rite of passage I deserve to experience and my family deserves to see. To have a moment where I not only celebrate being the first grandchild to go onto higher education and make my family proud, but also where my mother can see that draining her retirement fund was not for nothing, is so important to me that it’s hard to put into words.

Getting to physically walk across that stage is what makes graduation important. Having our ceremony over a computer rips away that excitement, that pride, and makes such a personal moment as impersonal as it can get. I want to look back on my college years and have fond memories of my time on The Bluff, and to not regret choosing to go to a school that prides itself on caring for its students but abandons us in our time of need.

Clearly, this pandemic is no one’s fault. However, the class of 2020 is being unfairly penalized by our commencement being canceled without our administration even considering a postponement. Other universities, from large public ones like Boston University to small private Catholic ones like Saint Martin's University, have acknowledged that a virtual graduation ceremony is neither what us students want nor deserve. These institutions have issued statements to their students stating that they will find a date to reschedule graduation, quarantine permitting, as this pandemic will come to a head at some point. 

Walking across the stage at Chiles to receive my diploma, which I worked so hard for and spent thousands of dollars on, is a moment I have been preparing for over the last four years. Reducing the importance of commencement down to speeches heard through my computer along with a CD playing “Pomp and Circumstance” would feel like a slap in the face to not only me, but to all seniors and their families who have worked so hard to make graduation day a reality. Postpone commencement. Please listen to your students. Give us what we all deserve.

Olivia Carbajal is a senior music major. She can be reached at carbajao20@up.edu.